What happened over winter in the Kitchen Garden

A close up shot of beans in the vegetable garden in the summertime

As the plants in the kitchen garden wind down for winter, it’s always tempting to consider November to February as quieter months to catch up on all the little jobs. However, the Knightshayes kitchen garden team know better, as although many of the plants may be dormant, winter in the kitchen garden is just as busy as ever. There are seeds to order, pots to wash, labels to paint, next year’s crops to plan, potatoes to chit, onions and garlic sown in November, sweet peas and broad beans under cover in December and by the time February arrives it’s time to think of tomatoes, aubergines and chillies which need a head start.

A kitchen gardener busy pruning fruit trees
Mulch good fun to be had

The mild weather has also meant that weeding has been an ongoing task and many of the herbaceous plants and grasses were cut back later than usual. A winter job which is surprisingly good fun with our great team of volunteers is mulching and we have targeted a number of areas in the garden with wonderfully rich well-rotted horse manure.

Heritage collections

Lucy and Sam have been working on the curation of our heritage seed collections and we are looking forward to planning another Seed Swap event in March 2016. We have even continued to harvest produce for the Stable’s Café; celeriac, parsnips, kales, red cabbage, Swiss chard and squashes and pumpkins from our store have all graced the menu through the winter and it has been great to contribute to the ever-popular carvery.

Planning ahead

A major job is rejuvenating our cropping plan in even more detail, aided by a brand new scale drawing created by kitchen gardener Sam. This will help us to maximise our use of space and continue to grow organic produce with even greater frequency for the Stables Café as we ensure we stick to a successional sowing schedule. As a fully productive garden, planning is everything but there is also the excitement of picking new and exotic varieties of vegetables to trial.

Knightshayes is also a fine historic garden and an important job this season is working to improve our trained fruit with careful winter pruning. We are also looking ahead to new projects and have been clearing the west wall of the garden ready for essential restoration works and new training wires. This is part of our project to bring back fine examples of trained fruit along this fantastic growing space to mirror the new orchard which will begin to take shape over the next two years.

Come rain or shine it , there’s always work under way, so do pay us a visit as the garden starts to shake off its winter blankets and warms up for another beautiful and productive spring here at Knightshayes.


Wheelbarrow full of freshly picked vegetables in the garden in July at Knightshayes Court

The kitchen garden, Knightshayes Court, Devon

A kitchen garden on a grand scale and part of an extensive estate.

View of the Pool Garden in winter at Knightshayes, Devon

Seasonal beauty in the formal and woodland garden

Explore one of the finest gardens in the south west and why not bring along your furry friend too to see the seasonal highlights this winter? Dogs are welcome on leads between November and February.